James Gambier (Royal Navy officer)

For the Admiral of the Fleet, see James Gambier, 1st Baron Gambier.
James Gambier
Born 1723
Died 1789
Allegiance  Kingdom of Great Britain
Service/branch Royal Navy
Rank Vice-Admiral
Commands held Jamaica Station
Battles/wars Seven Years' War

Vice-Admiral James Gambier (1723–1789) was a Royal Navy officer who went on to be Commander-in-Chief, North American Station. The historian David Syrett presented a study of Gambier, which presented him as corrupt and largely disliked by his fellow officers.

Naval career

Gambier joined the Royal Navy in about 1740 being promoted to Lieutenant in 1743.[1] Promoted to Captain, he commanded HMS Flamborough and HMS Squirrel.[1] Later he commanded HMS Burford and took part in the capture of Louisbourg and the capture of Guadeloupe.[1]

In 1770 he was appointed Commander-in-Chief, North American Station;[1] this appointment had been predictable because of his connections with the Vice Admiral Sir Samuel Cornish.[2] He was subsequently removed from control of the North American Station, following the rise of Lord Sandwich as First Lord of the Admiralty.[2] In 1773 he was made Commissioner of Victualling Accounts on the Navy Board in an attempt to make amends to him for the his political removal from his command in North America.[1][2] In September of that same year Gambier was appointed commissioner of Portsmouth. However, Gambier was not very successful or content with this position, as he was completely unprepared for managing a large civilian organization such as that at Portsmouth.[2] After becoming rear-admiral of the red from seniority in 1778, he returned to North America and was briefly Commander-in-Chief of the North American Station again after resigning from the commissonership at Portsmouth.[1][2] During his time in the post, Gambier was repeatedly accused of corruption and he was despised by many of his contemporaries.[2]

In October 1783 he became Commander-in-Chief in the Jamaica Station.[3] He was not well liked by his men and was once described as "this penurious old reptile".[2] He retired in 1784.[1]


Gambier's nephew also became an admiral and later 1st Baron Gambier. It has been established that James Fitzjames was Gambier's grandson.[4]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 James Gambier at Oxford Dictionary of National Biography
  2. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 Syrett, David (February 2001). "'This penurious old reptile': Rear-Admiral James Gambier and the American War". Historical Research. Wiley-Blackwell. 74 (183): 63–76. doi:10.1111/1468-2281.00116.
  3. Cundall, p. xx
  4. Battersby, William (2010). James Fitzjames: The Mystery Man of the Franklin Expedition. Dundurn. ISBN 9781459710733.


Military offices
Preceded by
Samuel Hood
Commander-in-Chief, North American Station
Succeeded by
John Montagu
Preceded by
Richard Howe
Commander-in-Chief, North American Station
Succeeded by
John Byron
Preceded by
Joshua Rowley
Commander-in-Chief, Jamaica Station
Succeeded by
John Pakenham
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